Botswana Confident of ACP's Future

Nairobi — Botswana remains confident that the Cotonou Agreement successor will further transform the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of nations, says President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Dr Masisi said this in an interview December 5 on the sidelines of the just ended ACP summit held in Nairobi, Kenya December 9-10.

The Cotonou Agreement, which comes to an end next February, was adopted in 2000 to replace the Lome Convention with the aim of reducing and eventually eradicating poverty.

An over-arching framework for European Union (EU) relations with ACP countries, the agreement's other aim was to contribute to the gradual integration of the organisations' members into the world economy.

"Indeed the agreement is coming to an end in February next year but given where we are in terms of negotiations, the successor agreement will not be ready immediately, so there would be a transition period before the successor convention comes into force," he said.

The realities and challenges faced by ACP member states, according to President Masisi, differed from those of yesteryears, which called for a robust and pragmatic institution.

President Masisi was however waxing lyrical about the benefits Botswana had enjoyed over the years thanks to the Cotonou Agreement which had among others guaranteed the country a market for its beef within the EU.

"As a country, we have derived numerous benefits such as learning a lot about the market, our own capacity, consumers, overreliance on a single market, negotiations including the shifting criteria as defined by the payer in this instance the EU," he said.

Moreover, Dr Masisi expressed confidence that Botswana stood to benefit exponentially from the many strategic alliances it had forged over the years through SACU, SADC, ECA, AFCTA and ACP, which offered an even bigger market.

The alliances, he said, were strategic associations meant to facilitate a Motswana business person countless opportunities.

He emphasised dissemination of information to make Batswana privy to the economic opportunities lying in wait for them.

This resonates well with President Masisi's State of the Nation Address pronouncement that government had taken a deliberate stance to nurture relations with other countries and international organisations with a view to improve Batswana's livelihoods.

President Masisi is also convinced that his administration's knowledge based economy thrust would position Batswana to derive maximum benefits from the established friendly international relations.

Dr Masisi said he was encouraged and energized by the fact that this year's summit, held under the theme, "A Transformed ACP Committed to Multilateralism", echoed his administration's emphasis on transformation.

Source : BOPA

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